FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Allegiant Air has canceled service at Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland, citing the absence of a planned air traffic control tower. Allegiant’s airline service from Fort Collins to Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport was scheduled to begin on Nov. 21.
“Having an air traffic control tower on property, staffed with FAA-certified controllers, was essential to our decision to schedule service at Fort Collins,” said Tyler Hollingsworth, Allegiant’s Vice President of Safety and Security. “We were deeply frustrated to learn that promise would not be fulfilled, leaving us with no responsible choice but to cancel service at this time. Most of all, we regret disappointing our customers who looked forward to flying with us on these routes, and ask for their understanding.”
Members of the NCRA’s governing body met on Monday afternoon and learned that Allegiant had begun reimbursing holders of flight reservations. Allegiant said customers will be notified of the cancellation by email, and will receive a full refund.
“We have to look at this as a cost of innovation,” commission member and Loveland City Council member Leah Johnson said. “The Northern Colorado airport has such momentum and so many opportunities that we can be optimistic. The reality is that this airport is the first in the nation with the Remote Tower Project. There are hiccups and challenges and that’s what we are facing.”
Airport Director Jason Licon said he believed, based on conversations with FAA officials, that the agency would be able to provide air traffic control coverage through the new system near the end of January.
“The FAA is working to ensure that they create a safe environment for future service,” Licon said. “This is taking more time than they anticipated, but they remain a solid partner in this innovation.”
The Colorado Division of Aeronautics has committed $8.8 million to the Remote Tower Project, a system that uses radar, cameras and ground-based sensors at the airport that can be remotely monitored by air traffic controllers in remote locations.
Airport Commission Chairman and Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell said he was confident that the door that the Remote Tower Project opens would be attractive to other prospective service providers.
“We want to move our community forward in seeking interest from commercial carriers,” Troxell said. “We have a readiness to compete. The remote tower will be in place, and that is the differentiator.”